Do we have this on the forums ? If so heavens above why not. I recall loving this one back when I read it years ago. Its been tantalising me up there on the shelf just begging for a revisit. Anybody want to read or hear about the exploits of the Blowflys ? I could give it a power read if folks are interested.
The cover depicts a drawing of a frenzied eye wide in terror as a quartet of flies hang out on his face. Very Steve Crisp artwork to me. Perhaps it is. ( Sorry for lack of scan )
The back blurb reads as follows...
"THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN WHO SWALLOWED A FLY PERHAPS SHE'LL DIE...."
In the sweltering summer heat a vicious mass of flies cloaks the skin of living creatures in a shifting, glittering carapace of death. Crawling and probing, they search for sores , wounds, scabs - anywhere they can penetrate the body and bury their millions of plump white eggs. Soon the blind and probing maggots will emerge to feed ...... Now their terrible instincts are driving the flies on to find fresh tissue. Now they seek human flesh.
Thats just done it for me. I'm reading this sucker again.
The book begins with a young boy plunging his hands into the decaying carcass of a dead rabbit to retrieve the mass of feeding maggots to help with his fishing. Passing local farmer Roy Lambert ponders why the flies are so big this particular year . Meanwhile back at his farm, Mark, his wheelchair bound son . The house keeper. Marion her daughter ( whom Mark wants to shag ) listen to a yarn old Jess Oakes is laying on them about his discovery of a dead ram up on the hills . Seems the poor thing has gone insane due to the horde of flies around it. Its thrown itself into the wire fencing and done itself in , much to the delight of the flies who are already tucking in.
Meanwhile Ian Wilde has returned to the village after a trip abroad for years studying bugs. Seems he should have stayed back at home after witnessing a poor old birdy topple of the window ledge after being besieged by the flies..
Our first human attack is not far away. Well page 29 in fact. Grumpy old Margaret is in bed but is soon awakened by a room full of swirling black flies. And true to nature in all insect attack novels every orifice is violated . In her frenzy she manages to stagger and smash all her perfume and herb bottles. The flies have had enough and son sod off. But their work had already been done by then.
Other activities in the village are put on hold as a film crew are in town to make a movie of a cult childrens character flyman ( ironic huh !). But Mark has more worries, a lump on his old dog Wally has been giving the mutt some grief. Its seems to have got bigger and looks to be undulating..... Hmmm wonder whats in there ?
After a trek through the marshes with Roy Lambert, Entomologist Ian has decided the flies surely must be a hybrid breed.
Meanwhile elsewhere, whilst little baby Belinda sleeps in her pram out on the lawn. Her Mother and Granny ponder on if any famous people will be in town for the making of Manfly. Somebody like that " nice Mike Yarwood" offers Granny Agnes. With that they head into the garden to discover little Belinda and pram covered in swarms of big black flies. Will she be rescued in time ? Think you may already know.
Although the gay couple at the pool hold up much better.
Helen Kinnock the local nurse ( who wants to shag Ian ) is attacked in her car ! Yep the buggers come through the vents when she turns the key. Thankfully Roy is on hand with a fire extinquisher to valiantly save her. Cue some great dialogue.
Roy " We'll get you to Dr Latimer ....No better still I'll take you to Ian to see what he thinks"
Helen " Oh I was all sticky....I was sticky when they attacked me arg. I bet I'm covered with fly eggs ready to bore into my flesh and make maggots"
Nowhere is safe. The local bus driver and passengers. A butchers and supermarket. And a pub landlord. Luckilly quick thinking Jack Martin saves himself by jumping into a barrell of best bitter. And Bridie Bassett is saved at the garage when Fred Cox sprays her black shrouded form with petrol.
The government spray everywhere with ODISONE a repellent. This seems to do the trick as theres dead flies everywhere. But it seems not all have been killed. And the local town/city nearby in Bristol is now under attack.
A town centre... you now what that means. It took a while but the arrival of an old favorite victim in the nasty novel pops up...The local tramp. Seth is his name. And yep is demise is particulary nasty. Poor sods had a good day to. Hes nicked some milk. Found odd scraps. Got a bottle of whiskey and enough money for fags. Kicking his heels he heads off to the old abandoned warehouses. And thats exactly were our flies have holed up. Poor Seth has no chance, he plummets down an empty once-there staircase and cracks open his head. Blood sends the flies into a frenzy and his body is attacked. Two local muggers find him hours later reduced to bloody rags and bones. Maggots everywhere. The flies soon make a meal of them. One faints. The other for some reason tears off all his clothes and jumps through an upperstory window.
The flies also manage to attack a local woman whom is having a sexual fantasy whilst in her bath. Silly woman is in so much rapture that when she clambers from the tub she confuses the tingling sensation down below to an orgasm , when its really a mass of flies... Easy mistake to make I suppose. Time for the government to come up with a stronger insect repellent.
Poor sods had a good day to. Hes nicked some milk. Found odd scraps. Got a bottle of whiskey and enough money for fags.
I'm reminded of Henry Hossing in Slime. He too was given a streak of uncharacteristically good luck before the "hood of horror" got him. It seems horror authors like to sometimes make the homeless at least have a nice meal and some booze before getting theirs in these stories.
Finally came. Flipped through the first few pages. Suitably grotesque and we haven't even gotten to any fly attacks yet. Just dead rabbits and foxes seething and bulging with maggots and one very, very gross little boy. Is it common practice to obtain bait by basically grabbing handfuls of maggots from carrion this way? Seems like it'd be a good way to get a nasty infection. Oh well. And of course our boy Roy Lambert knows that something isn't natural about these maggots. Almost as if they're not carrion eaters at all. Almost as if they settled on the animals while they were still alive...
Welp, once I finally sat down and read this I literally couldn't put it down. It was good, gooey, gory fun.
As a gay man, I liked that the token gay characters survived, and I also liked the portrayal of the vicar, Scott, arguing with the local busybody, Mrs. Fullerton, over whether or not Manfly (which I'd totally watch, by the way) is a moral show for children. His reasoning was solid; Manfly uses his powers for good, ergo the show is fine for kids, so she needs to piss off. I get the distinct impression Loman met someone like her at some point (is she a parody of Mary Whitehouse, who I hear about a lot in relation to censorship in British media?). Speaking of which, Mrs. Fullerton was the only character in the book I actually disliked, and even she was given some actual human moments with her daughter-in-law, and I found that Loman also handled the death of little Belinda about as tactfully as one can handle the death of an infant in one of these kinds of novels. Between that and the fact he avoids the usual trope of making everybody a raging asshole, I found Blowfly surprisingly compelling for pulp trash. I actually cared about most of the characters, with Seth in particular being the first "expendable derelict" archetype I actually was sad to see die since Henry Hossing in Slime. I was actually glad he died instantly from the fall and not the blowflies.